Monday night's home game against the New York Knicks was as close as the Orlando Magic will get to playing on Christmas this year.
As recently as two years ago, however, the Magic could count on being included in the NBA's annual slate of Christmas Day games.
The Magic played on the holiday each year from 2008 through 2012, which brought positives and negatives. The biggest positive was that it reflected the Magic's status within the league as a title contender. The negative, of course, was that the games interrupted holiday time with family.
Jameer Nelson sounded a bit wistful on Monday when he was asked what it'll be like to have Christmas off for the second consecutive year.
"It's a Catch-22 because the teams that are playing obviously are the top-tier teams," Nelson said. "You want to be one of those teams playing, but you also want to be able to enjoy your family. So, hopefully, we can get back to that one day when we have a situation where we're upset because we're playing on TV."
Knowing the Knicks
Magic combo forward Tobias Harris grew up on Long Island, and his father often took him and his family to Knicks games at Madison Square Garden.
"I remember watching Michael Jordan," Harris said.
Harris used to root for Jordan's Chicago Bulls and for the Los Angeles Lakers when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were Lakers teammates.
• Combo guard E'Twaun Moore missed his second consecutive game because of a bruised right thigh.
• Nelson said Monday that he was feeling better after he'd been hampered by a cold.
• For the second consecutive game, the Magic employed a starting lineup of Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Harris, Glen Davis and Nik Vucevic.
• Knicks point guard Beno Udrih played in 27 games for the Magic last season after the Magic acquired him, Harris and Doron Lamb in a trade for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayón and Ish Smith on Feb. 21. On Monday, he made his return to Amway Center. Udrih entered the game with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.
• After being limited by a hamstring injury, Knicks point guard Raymond Felton played in his first game since Dec. 10. Felton returned to New York's starting lineup.
• Nelson sank the 795th regular-season 3-pointer of his career, elevating him to third all-time in franchise history. He began the night tied with Hedo Turkoglu.
• The Knicks made their first four 3-point attempts.
• The Magic and their sponsors surprised Army veteran Juan L. Velazquez and his family during a break in Monday night's game. The family was given toys, gift cards, bikes, electronic gadgets, games, a barbecue grill and other gifts. Velazquez served in the Army for six years, and he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he was wounded by an improvised explosive device. The Velazquez family was invited to the game as "the military family of the game," and the family wasn't expecting the gifts.
• As a part of their ongoing 25th-anniversary celebration, the Magic announced that they will honor former player Pat Garrity at center court during Friday night's home game against the Detroit Pistons. Garrity played in a total of 513 regular-season games for the Magic from the 1999-2000 season through the 2007-08 season.
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